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YouTube TV Rocks Apple TV!

At just $35/mo with unlimited DVR, over 300 nationwide local network affiliates, and best in class user interface, YouTube TV is a compelling solution for cord-cutters and my new top pick of Streaming TV providers…

YouTube TV Finally on Apple TV – Top Shelf Coming Soon?

The much-anticipated YouTube TV app just dropped for Apple TV and Roku and I’ve got a first look at the Apple TV version. I’ve tested every major streaming TV service in the last year and I can tell you without reservation, YouTube TV is poised to be the new king of Streaming TV services. Here’s why:

YouTube TV – Why it Rocks Apple TV

  • Compelling value at $35/mo with a good mix of popular news, entertainment and sports channels
  • Unlimited DVR storage at no additional cost is game changing and will put significant pressure on competitors (cough cough, directv now)
  • Up to 6 user profiles and up to 3 simultaneous streams per account
  • Currently over 300 local network affiliates nationwide, second only to Hulu
  • Best in class user interface with logical layout and organization of live and recorded content. Incredible effort for a version 1.0 app release
  • Usable transport controls for scrubbing live and recorded content (once you know the tricks explained below)

YouTube TV – Room for Improvement

  • 10 second scrub clicks need to be enabled when video timeline overlay is active – the Siri remote’s edge click function confusingly changes to play/pause when the timeline appears over live video
  • Grid guide default sort order is confusing at first. Sort order appears to be: locals, sports, kids, entertainment, news
  • No way to save or filter favorites on the live TV grid guide or adjust the sort order to an alphabetical listing.
  • Some overlay screens cannot easily be dismissed while watching live TV without backing out of entire app
  • Does not yet have Time Warner content (HBO, CNN, TNN, TNT) or Scripps (HGTV, DIY, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel) or Hallmark (better have that one by Christmas or my wife will revolt!)

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YouTube TV Grid Guide

The grid guide is a solid effort. In terms of look and feel, its great and users should find it welcome that their local network channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, MyTV, etc) are listed first in the guide. There are a few issues:  After the listing of local channels there does not appear to be a a logical sort order. There does not appear to be a way to change the default sort or filter the guide in any way.

YouTube TV DVR

The YouTube TV DVR is an excellent value compared to other services – all channels can be recorded and although I’ve only had a short time to test since the release of the app, I’ve found no restrictive permission issues with content playback, advancing through commercials, etc.

YouTube TV Transport Controls

It took me some time to figure out how best to use the the transport controls (for scrubbing through content). If you want to skip ahead or skip back 10 seconds, just click the right or left edge of the Siri remote without activating the pause or onscreen video timeline. If you do the latter, as I have done now for 2 days straight, you will not be able to easily scrub content in an intuitive manner.

The trick to mastering the 10 second jump ahead and back is to simply click the right/left edge of the Siri remote track pad without swiping and without activating the video timeline display. Once a swipe is registered, the edge clicks are deactivated in favor of play/pause, despite the fact there is a play/pause button on the remote!

The engineers will hopefully address this issue soon. The 10 second jump should work the same whether the timeline is onscreen or not. As it currently works, once the video playback timeline is onscreen, the right/left clicks on the Siri remote are deactivated, and the video pause/play takes over. Since the Siri remote has a dedicated play/pause button, but no FF/RW button, the Siri touch pad is reserved for that behavior. However, for some strange reason, the Youtube TV engineers have disabled the edge clicks in favor of play/pause. Once this is fixed, it will be a dramatic improvement in usability.

YouTube TV Review – My Early Overall Rating

Now that I’ve had a few days with the app and figured out the trick to the video transport controls, I’d rate the overall app a 4.75 out of 5. Considering that this is the first release of this app on Apple TV, it’s a stellar development effort for the YouTube TV engineers. There are a few rough edges that need to be addressed, but they are minor compared to the things the app does well. The AT&T execs in Dallas and their Hulu counterparts in Santa Monica need to take note, Google has set a high bar with the YouTube TV app.

Bottom line: YouTube TV is poised to battle to become the new champion of the streaming TV services. With just a few minor tweaks to the transport control behavior as indicated above, and some minor usability fixes, its already head and shoulders above the competition in many aspects. The price is extremely affordable and they are rolling out local network affiliates faster than any other service currently. This is streaming TV done right, and right out of the gate.

If you want to give it a shot, you can get YouTube TV for Apple TV, iPhones and Tablets here YouTube TV – Google, Inc.

What do you think? Have you tried Youtube TV on one of the newly supported devices? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

  • NCAviator

    It is 3 streams not 6. Glad they just released the Roku and AppleTV support. Love using it. Only streaming service in my area with the 4 BIG broadcast channels. I get tumbnails on some recorded shows. Think it is the ones they are using ON-Demand.

    • Thanks for alerting me. It should be 6 “profiles” and 3 live streams per account. Same here with locals. YTTV has all but Fox in my area. Closest competitor is Hulu with 2! I’ve updated the post about the thumbnail previews. I started seeing them in recordings soon after. I think perhaps they took a while to index. I’m still perplexed that so many services have such cumbersome scrub/playback controls, especially this one since the standard Youtube app does it perfectly.

    • Are you on Apple TV? Curious if your experience with the transport controls on live TV are similar to mine. The problem they need to fix is that the least little swipe activates the video timeline overlay which nullifies the edge clicks for 10 second FF/RW jumps. They need to enable edge clicks for both views.

  • Update: After some additional time with the app, I’ve figured out the transport controls issue and updated the review accordingly.

  • James Webb

    It’s a simple, straight forward, well thought out interface that just makes sense & runs very smooth. Using on a Roku Ultra, it has a good looking, easy to read guide & a convenient mini guide as well, plus a last 4 channels feature accessible in two clicks. A simple click on a channel icon & you get an extended timeline & all the On Demand content for that channel. I trust YouTube’s ability to maintain rock solid reliability & it will be interesting to see what lies ahead. If they can squeeze more, maybe a food channel & home improvement channel, into that $35 lineup, it’ll be hard to beat. But the polish of the app alone is what really makes it stand out.

    • Good points. I believe they will need to get Time Warner on board (HBO, TNT, CNN, etc) at some point but that’s the only knock I have on content selection thus far… I think that the fact they haven’t yet been able to square a deal there, and knowing that Time Warner wants to merge with AT&T, tells me that AT&T is seriously concerned with the competition from YTTV. And the timeliness of the survey I mentioned above that was VERY inquisitive about my use of YTTV and what I liked about it vs DTVNow – they are concerned for sure.

      • JD Campbell

        That’s very interesting. It also may not be coincidental that they’re now doing a $10 offer for new sign ups, but that may also be a strategy to counter cancellations b/c of their latest DVR/beta delay.

  • Update, I just got a survey in my inbox from DIRECTV NOW. After answering one of the questions that I have the Youtube TV service, I got several screens that followed asking specific questions on what I liked about Youtube TV and what DTVNow could do to be better. I’m pretty sure the entrance of YTTV is going to raise the game of all competitors. Good thing.

  • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲

    Do you foresee any of the Streaming Providers eventually offering TCM as part of their content? Channels like this are key to many considering which service to choose.

    YouTubeTV leans heavily on Sports programming which is fine but it isn’t very well balanced IMO.

    • Yes, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is currently available on the following services:

      Hulu with Live TV
      DTVNow (Live a Little)
      Sling TV (Hollywood Extra)
      PSVue (Core)

      Check this link and click on the “Channels” tab at the bottom >

      • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲

        thanks… guess I missed it as I’ve browsed this link before- DOH!

  • Karl Childers

    I’d love to give YouTube TV a try but it is not available in my area.

    • Hi Karl, that’s a bummer. Care to share what area you are in?

      • Karl Childers

        I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana which is the state’s second largest city at about 265,000. None of the local broadcast stations are available on any of the streaming services. The local CBS affiliate doesn’t even have a live feed on CBS All-Access. Supposedly the media companies are working to make the stations available but there hasn’t been any visible progress since I last inquired a few months ago.

      • Karl Childers

        P.S. Don’t forget to update your “Streaming TV Services Device Support Comparison” list to include YouTube TV’s availability on Apple TV. 🙂

        • Thanks for the reminder. You can see it updated on both the master sheet (has tabs for ALL charts) as well as the stand alone chart. Here’s the master (use the tabs at bottom to switch between charts on one page) >

  • Glad to hear that the 10 second jump issue isn’t just due to my own ineptitude. I just got an Apple TV 4K and couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong when trying to do a 10 second jump, and instead find myself staring at the video timeline. It seems like I inadvertently trigger the video timeline about 50% of the time.

    • Exactly. I know that the engineers are aware of the issue, but what exactly they plan to do about it (and when) are still unanswered questions. Crazy something so fundamental to the basic user experience is (apparently) so hard to nail down.